Live Free or Die Hard Review

by Steve Rhodes (Steve DOT Rhodes AT InternetReviews DOT com)
June 27th, 2007

A film review by Steve Rhodes

Copyright 2007 Steve Rhodes

RATING (0 TO ****): *** 1/2

Okay, I know the question you have on your mind. Is there any chance that, after all of these years, Bruce Willis might really have another DIE HARD in him? After all, it's been twelve long years since Willis's very physical Detective John McClane came to save the day -- and the world in the process. With blood and sweat pouring profusely, Willis's acting isn't just intense. It's exhausting for him and for us watching him. Could a fifty-two year old guy like Willis still have that old magic?

The answer is a resounding "Yes!"

Unlike Mel Gibson, who clearly should have given up long before his LETHAL WEAPON series got to number 4, Willis is just as good this time as he was in the first of the DIE HARD series. Not only is he convincing as a take-no-prisoners cop, he is just as funny as ever.

A very high tech thriller, such as LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, might not seem like a natural for McClane, since he is best shooting, fighting and pulverizing his opponents. He's unlikely to be the least bit conversant in encryption algorithms or firewall strategies.

But the script uses McClane's low tech approach to crime fighting to good advantage. The story's villain, an über-techie named Thomas Gabriel (Timothy Olyphant), puts it best, telling McClane, "You're a Timex watch in a digital world." Pairing him with a good guy hacker named Matt Farrell (Justin Long, ACCEPTED), the movie makes them into a convincing, even if unlikely, team. The story starts with McClane assigned to bring Farrell in for questioning, but bad guys in droves are out to kill Farrell first. (A nice inside joke in the movie is that you never want to hit the "delete" key, lest you and everything within twenty feet of you will be deleted forever.)

Even though the plot is outlandish, it has its own internal logic, and it makes for you easy to suspend disbelief, since the film is so high action and so much downright fun. There are great car chases and very elaborate stunts worthy of the best of the James Bond pictures. The movie runs -- and I do mean "runs" -- 130 minutes but feels much shorter, since the energy is so high and the story so intriguing.

The setup for this thriller is that a group of terrorists led by Gabriel launch a type of cyber attack that is referred to as a fire sale. If cyber attack sounds kind of ho-hum to you, think again. Gabriel and his henchmen -- including one very dangerous woman Mai Lihn (Maggie Q from MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE III) -- shut down the whole eastern seaboard. Traffic systems, phone systems, electrical power, you name it. They bring it all down, causing chaos, injury and death.

It all started off so innocently, Farrell explains to McClane. Hackers like Farrell were intrigued by the idea of a fire sale, just to see if it could be done. "Hit the reset. Melt the system down." The reality of a fire sale, when in the hands of a madman like Gabriel, turn out to be frightening.

Even if over the top, the film's many action sequences are truly amazing. The adrenaline was pumping in our audience, as well as on the screen. Like applause for an opera singer after a great aria, our audience awarded the film frequent loud applause and cheers, as McClane kept overcoming one disaster after another with his usual macho confidence.

Hey, sign me up. I'm ready for DIE HARD 5, and the sooner, the better.

LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD runs 2:10. It is rated PG-13 for "intense sequences of violence and action, language and a brief sexual situation" and would be acceptable for kids around 11 and up.

The film opens nationwide in the United States on Wednesday, June 27, 2007. In the Silicon Valley, it will be showing at the AMC theaters, the Century theaters and the Camera Cinemas.


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